- a blog about food and value

Rubbish offers: read the small print

applegreenYesterday’s Liveline was buzzing with angry callers complaining about an offer from petrol station Applegreen.

Since last year, customers who spend €10 in Applegreen get a stamp on their loyalty card. Once they accumulate 50 stamps, they can get a three night stay for two people for €19.99 in a choice of hotels around Ireland. I nonchalantly picked up my loyalty card when it was offered by the cashier last month, but quickly realised it’s a rubbish offer.

Firstly, the loyalty card uses large fonts and many terms and conditions asterisks to tell you that you have to pay for meals in your chosen hotel. In the terms and conditions on the back of the card: “The Leisure Break voucher entitles 2 adults (children can also travel), up to 3 nights hotel accommodation and full use of all hotel facilities. In order to claim your 1, 2, or 3 nights using the voucher, you simply eat breakfast and dinner in your chosen hotel, each day you stay – remember you have to eat somewhere.” Who wants to be tied to their hotel for a three day stay, especially when many hotel restaurants are notoriously average?

Secondly, to redeem my voucher, I would have to spend €500 on petrol before the card expires on March 31 this month. I only picked it up a few weeks ago. Who spends €500 on petrol in a month and a half?

These were the issues riling callers to Damian O’Reilly yesterday. Anyone would think they’d been conned. But the loyalty card itself does an excellent job of advertising how rubbish the offer is on its own cover, while the terms and conditions on the back of the card – it’s only a paragraph or two, not pages and pages, which would be inexcusable – are also quite clear. But callers argued that this information was hidden away and only just discovered in some impossibly legalistic terms and conditions. Surely we should read through a few terms and conditions before we decide to throw €500 at one particular company?

If you don’t like this deal – and I absolutely don’t – simply get your petrol elsewhere, politely decline the card, or get your special offers for hotels on the Discover Ireland website, through SuperValu’s Getaway breaks scheme, or on the back of your receipts. Otherwise, in this instance, I think you’ve only got yourself to blame.

Have you poo-poohed any bad offers, or picked up any good deals? And do you ever get sucked in by not reading the terms and conditions?


  1. I haven’t seen the card, but I have been offered the deal and immediately refused it because I wasn’t interested. I understood that you had to pay €19.99 upfront to even get the terms and conditions. In the first place.

    Anyway, I have found great deals directly form hotels themselves. The current Carlton Kinsale offer of a free nights’ stay with dinner is fantastic. That’s dinner B&B for two for €90.

  2. o2 offers its customers free hotel stays if they pay for meals as a part of their “treats” programme. There is no extra requirement, you just need to a paying o2 customer and the “treats” are released to you a month or two after you register on o2 website.

    Same type of deal (I guess the hotels want to have at least their restaurants working for themselves) but at least you don’t need to spend €500 to activate it.

    FYI there are other smaller treats available as well so I availed of some hairdressing rebates and we had €5 off our takeaway once or twice.

  3. I got the card last year and like you quickly realised that it was not worth the effort. I do a lot of driving and would easliy clock up the €500 over the 3 months. However it was the breakfast and dinner part that turned me off.

    But to be fair the reason I get my diesel in Applegreen is that they are at least joint cheapest in my town (Clonmel) and often cheapest. They had a right battle with Tesco and a Vivo station for a while and prices in Clonmel were about 7-10c a lt cheaper than in the likes of Tipperary Town, Limerick, Cashel etc which I regularly passed through. I opted for Applegreen because they also had an offer of 5c a lt off with a car wash. I didn’t get it washed everytime but it was enough to win my business.

    Now the battle has eased off (the Vivo station went out of business and was taken over by another brand). However Applegreen/Tesco are still ~3c a lt cheaper than most stations I pass.

    The Hotel offer might have been a bit stupid but I can’t argue with them on price.

  4. You cant argue with them on price in Tipperary, they are not the cheapest in every area they are in.

  5. Hi, i have my loyalty card filled in & my friend has hers done also, we would be grateful if you could send a brochure to 41 Ministers Park, Lusk, Co. Dublin so as we could pick our hotel.


    Patrick Hayden

  6. Patrick, just who do you think you’re addressing your comment to?